Posts Tagged ‘criticism’
…. to skip the long role call skip to 2:30…
written by Becka Viau
I challenge you to consider this debate and then mix it up with your thoughts about a Prince Edward Island Provincial Museum. I am not suggesting another animatronic display of the father’s of Confederation … but how significant is the closing of Founder’s Hall? What will become of that space? Is a true museum the answer?
This opinion article was printed June 03 2011 in The Guardian
I am deeply troubled by the proposed PEI Family Party. Their policy on “Freedom from sexual indoctrination” in education compares lesbian and trans identity to pedophilia and bestiality. It also implies that these sex crimes are “normalize(ed), promot(ed) or propagate(ed)” in the public school system. These policies are deeply offensive and have no place in Island politics.
Yes, there is “sexual indoctrination” in schools, but not because the curriculum is promoting sex crimes, or even doing enough to acknowledge the existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) identities. All youth are pressured, harassed, and intimidated into expressing their gender and sexuality in restricted and/or unhealthy ways. Even straight boys are the target of homophobic violence if they fail to act masculine enough – if they figure skate, for example, or (god forbid) cry.
The cost of not teaching about and “normalizing” identities in the school system is extremely high: island families risk losing their children. LGBT youth have a much higher rate of suicide and attempted suicide because their schools, their peers, their families, and their communities do not recognize or accept their identity. LGBT youth will also seize the first opportunity to move away since they experience harassment, intimidation, and/or violence in the school system from students and teachers alike.
The PEI Family Party’s policies on “freedom from sexual indoctrination” are but the tip of the iceberg. Also on the agenda is revoking the rights of non-traditional families, including common-law couples with children, and eliminating all legislation recognizing same-sex marriage. Also chilling is their policy requiring women seeking abortion to read materials and watch videos made by pro-life groups. They would also effectively privatize education by taking money away from the public school system to pay for private schools. Employment equity and pay equity policies are also on the chopping block. It is clear that the PEI Family Party’s concerns are rooted in American-style evangelical Christianity, and I, for one, do not welcome this addition to PEI’s political landscape.
** for more information follow these links … Queer Theory, LGBT, ARC PEI … I tried to find even a curriculum outline for the current sexual education program in Island Schools but I couldn’t find anything …. If you would like to find that information you can most likely request it from the PEI Dept. of Education – becka
Film by Mille Clarkes
This video is made by one Canadian citizen to implore all Canadians to participate in their democracy.
May 2nd is a big day for Canada; our federal election day. We can beat our poor voter turn out from the last election. We can build a country that reflects our values. Values of strong social services, multiculturalism, healthcare, environmental stewardship, cultural and artistic legacy. We can care about all these issues while maintaining a robust economy.
On April 16th the citizens of the province of PEI held a “Vote. Everything Matters Rally” in the capital, Charlottetown. Over 200 people showed up to share their passion for democratic involvement.
There were a host of musicians out to join in for a ‘sing for democracy’ including Todd MacLean, John Connolly, Teresa Doyle, Meghan Blanchard, and Carmel Mikol.
Poet Tanya Davis spoke words to move a nation.
Other poignant speakers included Conor Leggott; a UPEI student and one of Canada’s concerned youth; Teresa Doyle, acclaimed musician and advocate for the Arts; as well as Jack McAndrew on behalf of the Friends of the CBC; Irene Novaczek Director of Island Studies Department of UPEI; and Mary Boyle of the PEI Health Coalition.
We’re going to be OK. This country is full of rational, caring, passionate people.
written by Becka Viau
On Feb 22nd an informational forum was held at The Guild to discuss the potential transfer of the ownership of the building from the PEI Arts Council to the current facility managing non-profit ARS LONGA.
Not very many people were in attendance, however there were representatives from the PEICA and ARS LONGA board of directors as well as federal, provincial and municipal elected officials in attendance. The crowd was small but the questions and points raised were essential to growing the conversation around the evolution of the Guild as an artistic space in the Community.
Many perceive the Guild to be continuously growing and succeeding. Accomplishing substantial recognition in the arts industry, the province and the city, and really compared to 10 years ago the Guild is doing great!
So why change something that seems to be going so right?
First of all the building is OLD and repair and maintenance costs are overwhelming, and in some instances crippling to the arts programming the Guild strives to provide. The roof is in desperate need of repair and the boilers need to be replaced. These cost are far above what is available through current eligible funding. For me this is a scary fact. If the boilers were to stop working and the Guild and the PEICA had to cover the cost of such repairs the funding and programs currently provided would essentially have to stop.
So why is the Guild not eligible for the big federal dollars allocated to infrastructure?
It is really this simple: The PEICA is a fund delivering organization that owns the Guild building… but as a government money distributor they are not eligible for infrastructure funding. Plain and simple.
ARS LONGa is the facility manager but they do not own the building. If they did own the building they would be eligible for the Heritage/ACOA dollars that would ensure the sustainability of the physical building.
In conclusion, it is a fact that the federal government has changed the way in which they distribute funds to provincial and community organizations. The PEICA may have been eligible for the federal monies 10 years ago, but things have changed. It is time for the artistic community to acknowledge the governments funding requirements and work together to evolve the Guild into a sustainable space for artists on PEI.
With that said there are some issues that need to be considered before any deal is signed off on.
Currently the board for ARS LONGA is made up of 2 city representatives (meaning 2 residents of Charlottetown, not city officials) 2 representatives of the Province of PEI (meaning two residents of PEI that are appointed by the provincial government to the board) and 2 representatives from the PEICA (meaning the PEICA board appoints two of its members to the ARS LONGA board.) Will this board structure change if the ownership of the building is transferred from the PEICA to ARS LONGA?
Democratic process is extremely important to any organization that was created to serve a membership. Currently there is not much democratic process found in the structure of the ARS LONGA board. I think that their governance needs to be revisited and reworked to ensure that Island Artists have a direct voice in the workings of the Guild. For me it seems like the only way of ensuring the Building remains a grassroots art space.
Is changing the structure of the ARS LONGA board to include representatives from other Provincial arts organizations that carry a membership a better way? Is it fine the way it is with a few concessions?
I believe that it is time to work together to help evolve the Guild into a truly sustainable arts space in Charlottetown. A good way to start this process is for people to ask questions, suggest creative solutions and tangible workable solutions. The Guild and the PEICA have to change in order to keep up with the changes in public funding. So lets put our collective creative brains together and think of this as a positive opportunity to build something strong, sustainable and for us!
*** you MUST be a member of the PEICA to vote on this issue . for more information about PEICA membership see HERE
The PEICA Chair, Dr. Greg Doran, has invited members with ideas and/or concerns to write to him at any time at the address firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOME EXTRA INFO!! You can visit the PEICA info page HERE … you will find the governance documents from ARS LONGA some more info on the history of the Guild, building information, and a statement about this deal proposal by ARS LONGA
*** this article can be found in the Spring Edition 2011 of Visual Art News magazine which can be purchased here.
This Town is Small, Inc.
by Mireille Eagan
Bureaucracy is one side of a two-sided coin, John A. MacDonald on one side, and from the other side of reality, what voice of poetic aspiration calls? This is the curse of the artist-run space.
- AA Bronson, The Humiliation of the Bureaucrat
“Why have an artist-run centre? Because there isn’t one. There isn’t one here. It’s that simple,” states Becka Viau. “Basically, as soon as we get our ‘boots,’ we’ll start walking around. We have to be strategic in our presentation. So far we’ve incorporated, created a business plan, developed a balanced board. But, we need to learn business speak, need to be good at the game, or they’re not going to let us in easily.” She starts singing in a low voice while dancing: “and what do we haaave? The communitaaay. They’re our cape, and we are wearing the boots of our business plaaan.”
Becka is one of several artists, writers, and musicians that have come together under the moniker of this town is small, a collective that has made great strides toward bringing an artist-run centre to Prince Edward Island in only a year. Developing projects through collaboration between genres, this town is small has hosted several art and music events, runs a well-oiled blog with submissions of art and writing from the local community, and is now ready to begin creating sustainable partnerships with other local non-profits in the arts sector. However, their goal long term is a space– a physical space for exhibitions, musical performances, studios, education.
The lack of an artist-run space is poignantly felt on Prince Edward Island. The Confederation Centre Art Gallery is the only institution that pays artist fees for the exhibition of work. Although they regularly incorporate local artists into programming, the payment for a solo show barely dents an artist’s living expenses. In addition, the price and paperwork for getting one’s art off the island are often formidable. Lack of shows means one cannot readily apply for federal funds– a depressing circle. A properly funded artist-run centre would be in the position to provide artist fees, as well as provide an essential counterpoint of creative conversation with what the CCAG is able to offer.
Several attempts have been made on PEI to establish an artist-run centre, and each has had their particular difficulties. The first official centre, the Great George St. Gallery, closed down in the nineties despite an impressive history of exhibitions. With interest toward supporting their local artists, they increasingly operated like a commercial gallery and as a result lost their Canada Council funding. From 2000 to 2001, a social/drinking group of artists and writers called the Friday Artists ‘Round Town Somewhere (or FARTS) organised several shows in the Gallery at the Guild, received provincial money for programming, and were able to pay artist fees. However, with little sustainability in terms of staff, the group’s efforts dissipated.
In the past few years several new collectives have appeared. Peake Street Studios is a modest but vibrant project based in the home of Donnalee Downe, one that regularly shows group exhibitions with work by members (and who recently organised an inter-provincial art exchange with its members, Gallery Connexion, and Eastern Edge Gallery called Out of Purgatory). Other examples of organised art spaces include Ampersand (a coffee bar, t-shirt shop, exhibition space, and hang out for the younger creative crowd) and the recent addition of MUSEartspace. None of these locations can or could pay artist fees, instead offering a more commercial presentation.
For this town is small, it’s going to be a long haul, with delicate balance at every intersection. Artist-run centres in Canada are supported through government grants at federal, provincial, and municipal levels, but money is difficult to obtain currently. For most funding bodies, a collective must have completed about three years of programming where they pay artist fees– not easy.
Yet, without a physical location and almost no funds, this town is small has managed to work with other venues on various projects. The most recent, “Iris Mercurial: The Passage of Night” at the Alibi Lounge, saw a substantial group of local artists donate their various talents to produce an evening of living sculptures, poetry, and video. Future plans include Small Town Sessions, with the online presentation of eight informal performances by local musicians be recorded in alternative venues such as rooftops, churches and living rooms. After that, there’s talk of organising a festival.
It’s a remarkable string of successes, raising questions of practicality and the benefits of being light on one’s feet: does this town is small actually need a physical space? Even as most artist-run centres move into their second and third decade of operation, the “problem” of space is continual. Some centres own their premises, some benefit from controlled rents in buildings provided by their city or province. Many are constantly moving at the will of their city’s real estate market. In the Maritimes, Gallery Connexion has obtained a location after a year of transience, their long term space lost after a major flood. Khyber ICA engages in an ongoing struggle to save their location in downtown Halifax. Eyelevel has had to move regularly due to rental costs.
These difficulties are not new, and as a result the notion of decentralised activity has always been in play. Mail Art is just one example that has regularly dotted the artist-run landscape as a lightweight method of sharing work across provincial and national boundaries. It is also common to find artist collectives that move spaces as provided, such as The Upstairs Apartment Gallery in Halifax, who began by conducting exhibitions in a bachelor apartment. With the sale of their regular building, the collective no longer has a fixed location, and moves to whatever location is offered by volunteers.
As mighty as it is, the future of this town is small critically depends on its ability to work with “boots” and “cape,” business and community. A permanent location would allow the collective to stabilize their operations, to provide support to its local community through promotion and education. However, its eventual form rests inextricably with that same local community. This has been the case with every artistic endeavour throughout the history of grassroots initiatives, because really, every town is small.
Mireille Eagan is a freelance curator and writer based in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
For more information on This Town is Small, please visit thistownissmall.wordpress.com
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Written in a clear and sophisticated style by some of the most talented arts writers in the province, Visual Arts News reflects the diversity of Nova Scotia’s geographic and cultural communities. The magazine is committed to providing balanced, engaging information about visual arts and artists in Nova Scotia. Our Editorial Committee is responsible for content selection, and the editor for assigning writers to each story. Although we are a non-profit organization supported in part by advertising, we recognize the importance of maintaining a clear separation between our independent editorial content and any advertising materials found in the magazine. Visual Arts News cannot guarantee editorial content or placement to advertisers.
Visual Arts News is the only magazine dedicated to contemporary visual art in Nova Scotia. Although our focus is mainly Nova Scotian art and artists, we also accept stories about Atlantic Canadian, national and international art events that we believe are of interest to our readership.
written by Becka Viau
Charlottetown was alive with music and celebration on Saturday January 22nd at the annual Music PEI Awards Gala. Although I am not a musician, I am an artist and when award time rounds the corner I generally find myself in many conversations about the importance of an awards program to the career development of Artists. A lot of people understand awards as measurements of talent, when most often awards are actually presented for hard work, lots of work and the ability to work efficiently within the industry.
Talent is subjective, and learned. Sure some people seem to have a “natural” ability to grasp technical skill, or maybe have “an ear” or “an eye” for tone and composition, but I would still argue that in order for natural ability to become successful in the industry not only does it have to be nurtured and believed in but it also has to be educated and conformed into the working world of the industry.
It is true that Awards augment artists’ funding applications, and a conference like Music PEI week can provide opportunity for selected artists to sell to delegates from across the country, but mostly Awards create prestige. … and if the actual function of the award is perceived by the public as a measure of talent not an acknowledgment of industry success … I wonder what is the function of all this prestige?
I guess that is the question… what do awards do? Especially in a small place, besides develop the perception of a prestigious scene within the community and ignite some competition amongst local artists? How do the awards affect you? As an artist? As a patron? As the audience? As an Islander?
I ask these questions not because I don’t believe in awards.. as an artist I do enjoy and benefit from the development of the arts scene in Charlottetown. We do have a pretty cool place with a lot of hardworking artists and I definitely don’t mind if the rest of the country knows it. I am just curious.
A great read about the concepts of awards, prestige and industry: The Economy of Prestige, by James F. English. Click here for a book preview.
written by Brad Deighan.
On Saturday, November 20 we held a Hug & Kiss In event in front of the Charlottetown Province House in order raise awareness of the rights and treatments of GBLTQ people, and the harmful effects of homophobia. We wanted to show solidarity between people of differing sexual orientations with and event organized by both heterosexuals and members of the gay community together. Homophobia is not simply a gay issue, but also a heterosexual one – if we’re going to identify as ‘straight’, then we got to get our shit straight as well.
Our goal has also been to acknowledge and condemn the incident in Little Pond, PE which we are describing as a hate crime. Two married men were targeted for being gay and threatened with their lives in a firebombing attack that burnt down their home. This is understood to have been based in religious belief. We stand against such forms of intolerance, and show our support for the couple – we do support you and we are not the only ones.
This is because neither the hug & kiss in, nor the firebombing attack, should be considered as isolated events. Instead, they are linked to many other struggles taking place in local in communities right now around the world, while digital communications and the internet give us more access into them than ever before. While issues may arise locally, they are becoming increasingly more connected to a larger, ongoing set of international events as well, and there are people all over the world who are no longer content to allow the fear and violence of homophobia to continue to to disrupt their lives.
In fact, our own act of solidarity with GLBTQ people was inspired by the gay kiss in which surrounded Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Spain in November, contesting the church’s stance stance on homosexuality. Because the attack in Little Pond was itself based in religious belief, the connection in this case to the Vatican is made quite clear – that this attitude of intolerance does not exist randomly at the individual level, but as part a larger and more systemic apparatus which is used to maintain control over people’s sexuality. If we want to change our attitudes, we also need the help of our public institutions! And this includes our institutions of art, as well as the church, those of law, politics, education and more.
I kiss, you kiss, we all hug and/or kiss people. Our tactic involved the creation of a spectacle of performers upon the public eye, and the maintenance of a facilitated self-entertainment with an open invitation to all. We tried to blend elements of public theater, performance and audience involvement, with political activism and critical social justice. This helped to make it fun and attractive as well as socially relevant, and successful in gaining access to a number of news-media outlets in order to reach out to a larger audience beyond the bounds of the actual event itself.
While instances of homophobia may occur locally and on a seemingly individual basis, it is in fact connected to a set of larger international problems and is systemic in nature. It exists as a heterosexual issue as well as a gay one, and demands the help of all of our institutions. How can our arts communities then, here in PE, have an impact on issues surrounding the rights and treatment of GLBTQ people? Where are the boundaries and intersections of art, activism and social criticism, and what may they have to offer one another – as well as us in the process? With this, I would like to extend an invitation to Island artists to explore these questions and help make our communities safe for GLBTQ people.
This town in too small for homophobic fear and/or violence.
Would Island Artists Benefit From More Critical Writing, Including More Criticisms? – a conversation between Christian and Pan
Written by Christian Ledwell
Prince Edward Island has a thriving arts community. Unfortunately, much of the art that is released does not receive a substantial critical response. I feel this is because reviewers are often not comfortable being negative when writing about art made on Prince Edward Island because they do not want to offend the artist.
A recent article in The Walrus mentions that Ernest Hemingway once read a review of his work called “The Dumb Ox” in a bookstore in Paris that made him so angry that he caused several thousands francs’ worth of water damage by punching a vase of tulips (showing himself to be, if not a dumb ox, at least a bull in a China shop). While negative reviews aren’t normally taken so badly, they rarely create good will. In the Island arts community, there is a strong likelihood that the reviewer and the artist know one another, and that no one will read the review as carefully as the artist.
For criticism to be effective, it needs to be an honest reflection of the reviewer’s experience of the artwork; the artist’s reaction shouldn’t be the primary concern. But given Prince Edward Island’s small size, you have to watch what you say. This is true of any conversation held in public. Once while I was having lunch with my sister, she recommended a plumber, and one of the only other two people in the restaurant turned out to be the plumber’s daughter. Conversations on the internet are even more easily overheard, as social media allows anyone to broadcast her opinion and artists Google themselves to listen in on the discussions held about their work.
A trusted outside perspective from a good director, editor, or producer goes a long way to improve an artistic vision. Criticism also gives an outside perspective, but critics don’t have a trust relationship with an artist, they don’t give their criticism in private, and the artist cannot make changes based on their criticisms. One role a reviewer can play is to curate, sifting out what is exceptional. But Prince Edward Island doesn’t need a Paris Review; Islanders hear about most exceptional art by word of mouth. Regardless, after a group of people experiences art together, there is a natural instinct to talk about what they liked and didn’t like. Criticism is a way to formalize that impulse to have a conversation about communally-experienced art. Thoughtful private conversations almost always include criticisms, even for art that is exceptional. I don’t feel that this negativity is regularly and honestly expressed in writing on Prince Edward Island.
The Island arts community is fortunate to have The Buzz, which offers consistently good writing and comprehensive coverage of arts events across the province. The Buzz is a vital part of why our arts community is thriving. The Buzz writes very positively about art, and its inclusionary approach has a lot of benefits; it is especially helpful for new artists who want to promote their work. I don’t think The Buzz needs to or should change. But I wonder if Island artists could benefit from receiving more bad press alongside the good.
A band I play in sent out our first EP out to be reviewed by music blogs. Indie music blogs are sent a high volume of records and so tend to only review music that they have something positive to say about. Of the reviews our EP received, my preference was for the review in which the reviewer was openly negative about what he didn’t like. While I stand by the material he dismisses, the songs he flagged as worthwhile are the ones that the band still plays in our live sets. By being clear about what he doesn’t like, it lends credibility to the praise he does give.
Artists want their work to be taken seriously, but for criticism to go beyond being a pat on the back, it requires an environment in which critics are free to offer negative opinions alongside positive opinions. Artists should be confident enough in their work that they can weather negative responses, and critics need to be confident enough in their opinions that they don’t pander in order to be polite. Criticism about Island art written by Islanders might be an elusive goal, but I think it is still worth aiming for. For instance, this weblog could be a good forum for artists to ask for critical feedback about their work. Until then, eavesdropping in restaurants is still a faithful standby for those looking for an objective opinion.
To Read Pan Wendt’s Response Click …
Written By Becka Viau
When I first viewed this lecture by Curator Thelma Golden, I found my self lost in a conversation around race… However, as I watched for a second time I realized that for me this lecture is really asking the question: is an art gallery a place to ignite social change? Or even better, where can an Art gallery exist so a community, so the community it serves can have conversations about difficult and changing social notions?
I instantly think of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown. Is this gallery providing Islanders, its community, the right amount of catalyst to ignite social discussion? I would argue yes, in the sense that they do exhibit Island Artists and when looking at the exhibitions installed right now it is obvious that 4 out of 5 exhibitions directly speak to island life and the conversations are accessible. Yet when I am confronted with the installation by Jayce Salloum I wonder how many from the Island community are having a real conversation with this work? Is this really an important question? Is the Salloum exhibition functioning on a National Level and not a local one? Does presenting artwork that is hard to access by the general public serving the mandate of the gallery?
Overall this lecture has made me reflect on the importance of national, local and international conversations sparked by art of all kinds, and the importance of public galleries to the presentation of these conversations.
To quote Thelma Golden, ”artists provide a space bigger than one that we could imagine to work through these images (ideas).” I challenge you, the reader to visit the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and find out what ideas you can get yourself into.